Migraine headaches are a common condition and can be debilitating for many people. Migraines may affect one side or both sides of your head and can cause pain that is moderate to severe and may be throbbing or pulsating. Migraines can also cause nausea, vomiting, or increased sensitivity to light or sound. Migraines usually last from four to 72 hours without treatment and worsen with daily activity. Migraines affect three times more women than men.
Conventional Treatment of Migraine
Conventional treatment of headaches depends on the type of headache and severity but usually relies on anti-inflammatory drugs (ie: NSAIDs), pain-relieving medications (ie: acetaminophen, opioids), triptan medications (ie: sumatriptan) or tricyclic antidepressants (ie: amitriptyline).
Preventive medications include metoprolol tartrate (Metoprolol®, Lopressor®), propranolol (Propranolol HCL®), amitriptyline, divalproex sodium (Depakote®) or topiramate (Topamax®).
Functional Medicine Management of Migraine
A comprehensive approach to the management of migraine headaches must take into consideration many aspects of health, including gut barrier integrity and imbalances of gut flora, liver detoxification capacity and toxic burden, hormone imbalances, energy production capacity, nutrient status and immune imbalances which promote inflammatory states. More specifically, Functional Medicine approaches migraine headaches by supporting normal physiology of the organ systems which become imbalanced in this condition and may contribute to the development and progression of the migraines.
There are several areas of management of migraine headache in the Functional Medicine approach:
- Restoring normal gut barrier integrity, digestion and gut microbial balance
- Supporting liver detoxification processes and decreasing toxic load
- Supporting restoration of physiologic hormone levels, including estrogen and progesterone levels throughout the monthly menstrual cycle
- Supporting restoration of brain neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter function responsible for mood, cognition and pain perception
- Supporting energy production by the mitochondria, the “power-houses” of the body’s cells
- Restoring healthy levels of nutrients in cases of nutritional deficiencies
- Identifying and removing food sensitivities which can trigger migraine headaches